A serious political crisis has engulfed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as his former attorney general has implicated him in an effort by his office to squelch the prosecution of an important Canadian construction company.
Former justice secretary and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould gave a bombshell testimony to the Standing Committee on Justice, saying she was the target of “veiled threats” from the prime minister’s office if she didn’t pursue a deferred prosecution against construction giant SNC-Lavalin of Montreal. Lavalin was under criminal investigation for corruption. Wilson-Raybould said that Trudeau was involved in the unethical and probably illegal effort to pressure her not to prosecute Lavalin.
The scandal will probably not result in Trudeau’s resignation. But since the Lavalin matter broke, Trudeau’s Liberal Party has fallen behind the Conservatives in the polls in advance of this fall’s elections.
Mr Trudeau batted away calls for his resignation when asked if he or anyone in the Prime Minister’s Office or Cabinet felt a duty to resign over the SNC-Lavalin outrage.
He failed to address the issue and refused to confirm whether he would allow Ms Wilson-Raybould to stand in the autumn ballot.
Mr Trudeau explained Canadians would have a “very clear choice” in October about who they want to be Prime Minister.
Mr Trudeau said: “There will be a clear choice to be made between the Liberal Party, this government that has always invested in Canadians, that has created record economic growth, record low unemployment.
“That has consistently stood up for Canadian jobs, consistently defended Canadian jobs, while defending our institutions and the independence of our judiciary.”
The Liberal leader continued by attacking the Conservative opposition who have demanded he step down immediately.
Mr Trudeau said: “On the other hand there is a choice of the party that is still very much the party of Stephen Harper, that continues to attack, to divide, to play politics with big issues and to consider that the best way to create economic growth is still to give advantages to the wealthiest.
In fact, the Lavalin prosecution is all about politics for Trudeau. The company has close ties to several Quebec politicians and the French-speaking province is vital to the Liberals’ chances to maintain their majority. Trudeau only made the situation worse with his ham-handed interference.
It appears that the politics of selfies is over.
The campaign was one of measured politics but also selfies.
There were a lot of selfies.
The selfies have continued during Trudeau’s time as prime minister. He has brought new meaning to the term “photo op.” But is that leadership?
Of course not. Taking thousands of selfies does not translate into leadership. It is merely window dressing on the operative of getting elected.
Once elected, it no longer is a question about selfies rather leadership. The SNC-Lavalin versus Wilson-Raybould indignity demonstrates not only the disregard for ethics but contempt for the rule of law.
On January 7, Trudeau removed Wilson-Raybould from the position of the attorney general (and Minister of Justice) to the lesser portfolio of Minister of Veteran Affairs of Canada. No selfie in this case between Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould, but it screams of power tripping.
Arguably frustrated by Wilson-Raybould’s stonewalling and unwillingness to attend to Trudeau’s wishes on the SNC-Lavalin file, the prime minister demonstrated a petulant and selfish act of leadership. He got rid of her. Perhaps he thought this would show her who the boss is.
Trudeau’s platitudes and good looks may have gotten him elected, but his immaturity and shallowness have been exposed. Whether he survives this crisis is immaterial. The emperor obviously has no clothes and the people of Canada may finally have seen that.